2.2. 2016 Kuukauden kasvo

Riitta Mustonen promotes entrepreneurship in the University of Turku

High-quality science produces new entrepreneurship for the needs of future society. That’s what the University of Turku aims at in the implementation of its new entrepreneurship strategy. Riitta Mustonen has worked as the Development Director of the entrepreneurship university for almost a year.

The view through the window in the room of Riitta Mustonen, Development Director of the University of Turku, shows a beautiful snowy landscape dominated by Turku Cathedral. She does not have much time to admire it, though, as her days are filled by meetings with numerous stakeholders and own staff. The Development Services unit headed by her is responsible e.g. for the implementation of the new strategy for entrepreneurship training and entrepreneurship in the university. In practice, it means increasing the interaction between the university and society, encouraging entrepreneurship, and increasing innovative ways of working.

“The job is very interesting, especially because Development Services is a new organisation, and I was involved in starting it and its ways of working from the very beginning. The angle to science is different from what I’ve had in my previous positions. You need to look at science from the points of view of research, teaching, international co-operation, and promotion of innovations, as well as thinking about the research funding on the whole. While I have previously worked for the financiers, in the University of Turku my job is to help researchers, for instance, to acquire funding”, Dr Mustonen says.

Big changes

Her extensive experience is useful, because the job description covers a broad area. Furthermore, the operating environment is complicated by considerable pressure for changes which the universities are now facing.

“The last 5–6 years have involved big changes, as the economic conditions have added a new dimension to all development. The needs for development have not, however, changed. The situation presents a major challenge to all universities. Unlike many other universities, the University of Turku has not laid off employees, but we are also under pressure to save. It’s a pity if the specialists and experts released from the universities due to redundancies can’t be recruited because of the poor economic situation”, Dr Mustonen says.

Promotion of entrepreneurship in practice

Dr Mustonen considers the University of Turku’s new entrepreneurship strategy useful particularly because it names the key measures for moving on.

”We have recruited two entrepreneurship agents. The strategy was already complete when I started in March last year. I run the Development Services organisation with around 30 people, and I’m new here, so getting organised and learning to know the people has taken time, but I’m really happy to be able to do this. It’s great if we can help good researchers. The main thing is to strengthen the interaction between research and training and society, and for example increase training exports and entrepreneurship activities. It feels great to do work that has a meaning, and there are enough challenges. I can also learn something new all the time.”

Background in Nordic co-operation

Riitta Mustonen moved to Turku about a year ago from Oslo, having worked there as the Deputy Director of NordForsk for two years. The Nordic co-operation organisation was familiar to her already from the time she sat in the Board of Directors of the Academy of Finland.

”Finns don’t often come to think how nice a city it is, and just one-hour flight away. My relatives, friends and family who visited me there all loved it. You can go everywhere in the city-centre by foot, and there’s plenty to do for families with children. The fjords are incredibly beautiful, and you can go skiing by metro if you like. The price level is a bit higher than in Finland, but you can find inexpensive accommodation and restaurants”, Riitta Mustonen says.

She recommends a trip by train from Oslo to Bergen because of the gorgeous views, and she liked especially the new Oslo Opera House where she went to see many great performances. There are also interesting music clubs in the city.

Broad taste in music

Now Riitta Mustonen lives the weekdays in Luolavuori district in Turku where she found a cosy flat with a wonderful view from the 8th floor. She says that it’s easy to enjoy especially music in Turku, and she has already been at concerts of Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. Her other leisure activities include outdoor exercise.

”I like all kinds of music, perhaps excluding military music. I wanted to go to Ruisrock festival last summer as I was here and it had been a while since the last time. Next summer I’ll go someplace else, maybe see Neil Young at Hartwall Arena. And every summer I go to Savonlinna Opera Festival”, she says.

Home in Porvoo

On Fridays, Dr Mustonen sits at the wheel and takes the two-hour drive on the motorway to in Porvoo. There is still her real home where she lives with her husband. Her 25-year-old son and the husband’s two adult children also live in Porvoo, and there is one grandchild, too.

“Porvoo is a small, charming old town and you can go everywhere by foot. It’s close enough to Helsinki and I used to commute to Helsinki from there. The archipelago and nature are also close, but the culture supply is of course not as diverse as in the Helsinki metropolitan area. In late June there is Avanti Summer Sounds which is always interesting. In the summer we also spend time at our cottage in Pellinki archipelago”, Riitta Mustonen says.

Text and photos: Anne Kortela

Riitta Mustonen

Development Director, University of Turku

1991 Ph.D., University of Helsinki
1992 Docent of Genetics, University of Helsinki

1992–1994 MIT/United States, Post doc
1994–1995 DKFZ/Germany, Research Fellow
1995–1997 Academy of Finland, Science Adviser
1997–2003 Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Laboratory Director
2003–2007 Academy of Finland, Director of the Research Council for Health
2007–2013 Academy of Finland, Vice President for Research
2013–2014 Academy of Finland, Director of Strategy unit
2014–2015 NordForsk, Deputy Director, Norway
1 Mar 2015– University of Turku, Development Director